Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Obama Model for Marriage

Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Constitution urges the Obamas to become a model for marriage in this country.

The Obamas are already burdened by the baggage of cultural expectations, but I’ll go ahead and add another sack to their load: Here’s hoping their presence on the national stage will erase that sixth-grader’s wrongheaded notion. Marriage is an equal-opportunity institution, no matter color, creed or sexual orientation.

“I was really excited when I saw the Obama family on the [TV] screen [on Nov. 4] because I meet so many young African-Americans who, frankly, have never seen an intact family like this,” said Leah Ward Sears, chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court and a board member of the Institute for American Values, which promotes marriage. “I’m hopeful [the Obamas] will be a brand-new model of what the ideal is, even if many, many of us will fall short of the ideal,” she added.

As if the Obamas have a choice.

By the time US, People, Life, Redbook, O, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Essence get done buffing up the Obama marriage, it will rank right up there with JFK and Jackie among the most famous marriages of all time.

Let's face it. Reality is reality, marketing is marketing, and women's magazines and morning network shows haven't been able to sell the Bush family as "America's Family" for years. When the media looks at the Obama family, they see "star quality," i. e., models who can deliver higher ratings, more circulation, bigger advertising rates, and more profits.

"There's gold in them there Obamas."

If the family media has their way, we'll know all about how Barack and Michelle met, the little secrets that allow them to keep their love alive, how they raise their children in the White House pressure cooker and what the girls think about boys. The President and Michell Obama will have the model marriage. The kids will be the model children and everything will be lovely in the gauzy sugar plum castles created by the art directors at the various media outlets.

By the time a profit-hungry media is done with the Obamas, the Obama marriage will be bigger than Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, bigger than Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, bigger than Ozzie and Harriet, and bigger than King Arthur and Guinevere.

"Guinevere had green eyes, like yours my lady like yours."

Actually, the question isn't whether Barack and Michelle Obama will be role models, the question is whether they will serve as symbolic father and mother to the country. I can see Obama in that role. He's certainly preachy enough in a good, responsible kind of way. Whether the media is going to promote that is another question though.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Good for Prop 8 Boycotts

I've started to see some notices on demonstrations and boycotts for businesses that contributed to Prop 8 in California.

More than a week after the passage of Proposition 8, activists opposed to the ban on gay marriage have shifted their protests to new arenas -- using boycotts to target businesses and individuals who contributed to the winning side.

The effect of the boycotts remains unclear. Merchants said that the overall poor conomy made it difficult to tell whether their businesses were declining specifically because of the threats. But the protests have been highly visible and have drawn strong objections from backers of the initiative.

For those RSI readers unfamiliar with Prop 8, it was a ballot initiative in California to take away marriage rights of gay people that had recently been recognized by the courts. The initiative passed 52-48. At its core, Prop 8 is an ugly act of bigotry that is much like the Jim Crow system of racial segregation. Just as Jim Crow rescinded rights for African-Americans that had been established in the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution, Prop 8 took away a fundamental right of marriage for gay people that had been recognized by the California Courts. Now California is once again a state where gay people are not recognized as equal citizens, not afforded equal treatment of the law, and are symbolically branded as people who must not be allowed to marry.

During the Prop 8 campaign, gay activists organized a group called Californians Against Hate to target the major donors to the "Yes on Prop 8" campaign by boycotting their businesses. After the approval of the Prop 8 discrimination against gays amendment to the California constitution, Californians Against Hate expanded their activities to demonstrating in front of Mormon temples and the car dealerships of major donors to the "Yes on Prop 8" campaign as well as boycotting the businesses of even small donors.

Good for Californians Against Hate.

As people who have been denied their fundamental rights, it's important for gay people to stand up for themselves and take the fight to those who work to deny them their rights. That's what Californians Against Hate is doing--taking the struggle for gay civil rights to the doorsteps of the people who are persecuting them.

In doing this aggressively, gay people also serve as a role model for African-American activists, Hispanic activists, feminists, and the leaders of other groups that experience pervasive mistreatment. Since the 1980's, Act Up and other gay activist organizations have done tremendous service to gay people (and all people) by being constantly provocative and getting in the faces of everybody who was waffling on gay rights. That's the main reason why gay rights activists have gained so much ground while other causes have stagnated. Californians Against Hate is another example of gay activists pushing forward and everybody else should be thinking about how to emulate them as well.

As for the feelings of the people being targeted by the boycotts and demonstrations. I care just as much for their feelings as they care for the feelings of all the gay people who want to get married but can't.

In other words, I don't care at all.
The Hillary Convergence. Concerning the Hillary for Secretary of State buzz, Josh Marshall claims that he doesn't "have an answer on why either party would want this appointment." Give me a break. The Secretary of State is going to be a central player in an Obama administration that's going to be trying to realign itself in a cooperative posture with the rest of the world. There's the full boil issues of Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Darfur, and North Korea and a wide range of just under the surface issues like China, India, and the global financial crisis. Hillary hasn't been that much involved with the Senate and the next four to eight years will be a great time to be a Secretary of State. Why wouldn't she want it.

More importantly, Hillary Clinton has demonstrated a lot of the kind of character that Barack Obama would want to see in a top administrative slot. As much as anything, Hillary Clinton was probably stunned by her defeat at Obama's hands during the primaries. But she swallowed her pride, did what the Obama people asked of her, and did it very well. Hillary's convention speech was by far the best speech I've ever heard her give. That shows a lot to me. I'm sure it also shows a lot to Barack Obama and has much to do with the fact that her name's out there for Secretary of State.
The Church of Opposing Abortion and Gay Marriage! Oh yeah, and what's His Name.

That seems to be the direction the Catholic Church is going these days.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hillary for Secretary of State? The Secretary of State job doesn't seem like a natural fit for Hillary Clinton. But there are certain pluses. Hillary would bring a high profile. She'd have clout with President Obama and her clout would keep the perpetually envious troops at the State Department happy.

Besides she'd be better than Bill Richardson.

Obama Owes It All To Liberal College Professors

Maybe some of it anyway. This is my case. What the right claims about liberal professors is true. Liberal college professors view the United States as a racist society, discuss race and racism a great deal in their classes, analyze materials on racial stereotyping, and assign a considerable amount of work by African-American writers. not named Shelby Steele.

My claim is that a couple of decades of this kind of education about race has had its effect. The white college students and graduates who took all of these classes are now more aware of the various forms of white racial hostility, more offended by racial stereotyping, and more interested in African-American ideas. As a result, whites with college experience were not only more open to Obama's candidacy than they would have been otherwise, they were also put off by all the racial innuendo that came out of the McCain camp.

Obviously, Obama was a compelling candidate whose campaign was extremely well-planned and organized. But liberal professors can be seen as helping to prepare the way for Obama's success.
Our Unpublished Book. We finally turned in the Government Program's response to the Academic Curriculum Audit at Morehead State University. The Government Program has now written over 200 pages of Audit-related material since March. That's a decent-sized book.

The Cult of Conservatism

We had our last political forum of the 2008 Presidential Election at Morehead State University last night. It was an interesting panel. In a way, it was typical academic stuff warning against irrational exuberance. All the participants--including Erik Lewis and John Hennen of Morehead State and Randall Swain of EKU-- warned against people reading too much into the election. Everyone was cautious about getting too optimistic about an Obama presidency.

Actually I disagreed. I feel an enormous amount of exuberance and I'm extremely optimistic about the upcoming Obama administration.

But the most interesting thing about the panel was John Hennen's remark that conservativism is becoming a "cult" rather than a movement. I often post about the ways that conservatives are viewing themselves as separate and apart from the nation as a whole. But I hadn't thought of conservativatism as a cult before. I'll have to think about that one some more.

It was nice to welcome Randall Swain back to Morehead to participate in the forum.

It was even nicer to get nine hours of sleep afterward.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What's There to Debate? Alexander Mooney of CNN writes that President Bush's "legacy is sure to be hotly debated for decades . . . " What's there to debate. Nobody debates the legacies of James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, or Herbert Hoover, and other failed presidents. Why would they debate the legacy of George Bush?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Bill Kristol, Puppies, and Conservatism

Bill Kristol's column on Obama's victory speech has a little sidebar about puppies and ideology that reveals his ignorance of conservatism in the age of Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney:
Obama was, naturally, asked about the promised-but-not-yet-purchased puppy at his press conference Friday. (If one were being churlish, one might say that it was typical of a liberal to promise the dog before delivering it. A results-oriented conservative would simply have shown up with the puppy without the advance hype.)
Despite his relentless efforts to promote Palin, Kristol still doesn't get it. A "results-oriented conservative" like Sarah Palin wouldn't have shown up with the puppy, she would have rode shotgun on a helicopter as she chased the desperate little puppy over miles of tundra before she shot it.

Conservatives liked the movie Bambi where Bambi's mom got shot. They like shooting puppies too.

After Palin shot the poor little thing, Dick Cheney would have started an interrogation. I won't go into the gory details, but let me just say that Cheney wouldn't have taken "woof" for an answer.

Unlike Bill Kristol and his New York Times audience, real conservatives are "Outlaws" who don't care about puppy-dog sentiment any more than they care about the environment or the Geneval Convention.

Or life in general.

If Outlaw-in-chief Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom gets ahold of life, he's going to "jump it, drag it behind a dumpster, and take whatever cash or drugs it happens to have on it."

Now that's a real conservative.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like . . .

Now that the election is over, Christmas is already in the air. Stores have Christmas decorations out, families are nailing down their Christmas travel plans, and the RSI family is thinking about breaking out their traditional Rocking Santa dolls.

Unlike Mrs. RSI, I'm not one of the people who gets grouchy that Christmas starts before Thanksgiving and even before Halloween. If anything, I wish the Christmas season were longer. How many seasons of generosity and good will do we get to have in the United States?

But what about Thanksgiving? It looks like Thanksgiving is going to gradually slip into the netherworld of Veterans Day, Colombus Day, Flag Day, President's Day and the other holidays that everyone acknowledges but hardly anybody celebrates.

Even though the turkey is good, Thanksgiving just doesn't have enough the commercial, patriotic, or religious punch needed to stand up to the Christmas dynamo.

Anyway . . .

"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas."